BLENDING WITH PENCILS
This is the most common method of blending and this is done when layering your pencils on top of one another. You can use any pencils for blending but the most common pencil used is a white pencil.
Blending with pencils is not to be confused with burnishing as the two techniques are completely different.
Blending occurs naturally as you layer. As you build up tones and layers colours on top of one another, a blend naturally occurs and you’ll see your work smoothing out as you continue to build those all important layers. The key here is to apply the same pressure on your pencil with each layer – which is different to burnishing.
When blending with pencils, you still get that slight grain and paper white showing through.
BLENDING WITH SOLVENT
You may have heard some artists talking about Odourless Mineral Spirits (OMS) or a solvent and this is used to blend coloured pencils to achieve a painterly effect. You can achieve some really rich, smooth, vibrant colours by blending this way.
A solvent is basically a chemical which helps to break down the coloured pencil binder and moves the pigment around to fill the valleys of the paper, resulting in eliminating that paper grain effect which you get from blending with pencils.
I could write loads of info about solvents and the best way to use them, but I created a handy YouTube video which demonstrates the process a lot better.
BLENDING WITH OTHER TOOLS
There are a whole host of other tools, pens and pencils which can help with blending.
Colourless blending pencils are a favourite among artists with some good ones coming from Derwent and Caran d’Ache. All blender pencils have their own core properties and are ideally designed to use with their home brand of pencils. Derwents blender pencil is quite hard and acts a little more like a burnishing whilst the Caran d’Ache blender is a chunky, waxy crayon like substance which effortlessly blends the Luminance pencils.
Blending pens are similar to a solvent in that they contain a liquid which breaks down the binder and moves the pigment. Derwent have a great blender pen set which works with most types of pencil and results in some vibrant, smooth blends.
Tortillions or Paper Stumps can be used to blend your pencils, much like they’re used to blend graphite and other mediums. These are used by sweeping the stump across your work and gently blending pencils strokes together. This method would be used in the same way as blending with pencils. You need to keep the pressure light otherwise you’re going to damage that paper and prevent future layers from being easily added.
Colour Shapers have been known to be used to blend pencils. These are especially useful if you’re working on a much rough surface like Pastelmat. There’s a great article about using this method in the January 2018 issue of Colored Pencil Magazine.